There are approximately 1.38 million hospital readmissions each year. These readmissions put a financial strain on hospitals and take an emotional toll on patients.
As a health care provider, you have the ability to impact patient care by reducing hospital readmissions. Read on to learn what actions you can take to improve the health of your patients.
Your Guide to Reducing Hospital Readmissions
There are some predictable reasons for hospital readmissions. If you identify them in your patients, act on them, the result will be a reduction in hospital readmission.
1. Schedule Follow Up Care
A recent study has shown that when follow up care is scheduled, hospital readmissions are reduced. Make sure you schedule follow up care with all your patients, especially high-risk ones.
Don’t forget to stress the importance of attending those appointments. To ensure follow-ups are attended, offer support in finding ride options. Patients with Medicare are more likely to have hospital readmissions when compared to patients with private insurance.
2. Communicate Post-Discharge Instructions
When providing post-discharge instructions, make sure that you assess the understanding of those instructions. Use simple techniques like asking patients, or caregivers, to repeat the instructions helps to confirm comprehension.
Non-native English speakers may be at the highest risk of not understanding instructions. If you provide care to specific groups of non-English speakers, consider having standard discharge instructions translated or use an interpreter to ensure that all instructions are understood. Include sign language interpreters for those that are deaf or hard of hearing.
3. Focus on Prevention
Use hospital admission as a catalyst to improve overall health. Provide information on physical activity and nutrition to patients as part of the discharge process. This can be as simple as exercise prescriptions for walking, or as comprehensive as referral to a health and fitness intervention.
4. Implement Home Health Care and Telemonitoring Technology
Just as follow up care is important in reducing readmission, so is home health care. Ensure your facility has a robust home health care network that supports those in need.
Telemonitoring of patients can be a cost-effective way to provide patient support and triage those patients that need to schedule follow up care. Partnering with primary care physicians can also help to minimize readmission, you can read more here on how they can support patients post-discharge.
5. Staff Appropriately
While all of these measures have an impact on readmissions, they are not possible without the staff to act upon the recommendations. Working staff, especially nurses over time, can have a negative impact on readmission numbers.
There are actions that can be taken by all health care providers to reduce and even prevent hospital readmissions. The important message is to know the risk factors associated with readmission and ensure that staff is available and has the resources to implement risk reduction interventions.
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